Jobless in Ohio are struggling without benefits

About 1.3 million people saw their benefits vanish in December, and another 2 million in the months since then.
TNS Regional News
Jul 7, 2014

 

It’s been seven months since Congress allowed federal unemployment benefits to expire, and, in Ohio, Donna Sprague is running out options.

She lost her specialized nursing job in August. She lost her car to the bank in November. Nearly two months ago, a friend living on the West Side of Columbus took in her and her husband, a disabled veteran who cannot work and who receives no benefits. A few days later, Sprague missed a step at her friend’s house and broke four bones in her foot.

She said she’s sent out more than 400 resumes and landed two interviews. There are “too many employees,” she said, “for too few jobs.”

In the past, her troubles would’ve been slightly cushioned by long-term unemployment benefits — benefits that kick in after state unemployment runs out. But in December, Congress allowed federal unemployment benefits to expire. Some 1.3 million people saw their benefits vanish, with about 2 million seeing their benefits run out in the months since then.

Until January, the unemployed had two major means of relief: In the immediate period after they lost their jobs, they could — and can — apply for and receive state unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks.

And until Dec. 28, they also had federal unemployment benefits after that. Federal benefits covered up to 99 weeks — including state assistance — at the peak of the economic crisis, but as of December, they had been scaled back to a maximum of 63 weeks in Ohio — 26 with state assistance and 37 with federal assistance.

There was a brief possibility of a deal for an extension in March, when the Senate voted to move forward on a measure to extend unemployment benefits for the more than 3.3 million long-term unemployed in this country.

The House, however, refused to take up the bill, with House Speaker John Boehner saying the Senate measure did not do enough to create more private-sector jobs and that any extension must be paid for.

Now, it’s unclear if they’ll ever be restored.

“There are just an awful lot of hurdles on this,” said Steve Billet, director of the Legislative Affairs Master’s program at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management in Washington.

He said the Senate is increasingly reluctant to devote time to the issue as the November elections approach, particularly because they’ve already acted on the issue, and the House remains skeptical of the bill the Senate passed in March.

Still, in late June, Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., introduced a measure aimed at extending long-term unemployment benefits. A spokesman for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Brown is supportive of their efforts. “We should not turn our back on Ohioans looking for new work,” said Brown, saying that extending unemployment would help “families pay their bills and put food on the table during hard times.”

A spokesman for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, meanwhile, said Portman has not co-sponsored the newest proposal. Portman, however, backed the bill that the Senate voted on in March.

The federal aid was part of the 2008 response to a struggling economy. But proponents of extending the benefits argue that while the economy has improved, it still has a ways to go. Ohio’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in May, down from 5.7 percent in April. The U.S. unemployment rate for June was 6.1 percent, down from 7.5 percent in May 2013.

Long-term unemployment is slowly improving as well. The Department of Labor reported on Thursday that the number of those jobless for 27 weeks or more declined by 293,000 in June, to 3.1 million. That number is down 1.2 million from last year.

Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said 37,600 Ohioans filed a claim for federal emergency unemployment compensation during the last week the program was available.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which tracks the issue, estimates 128,600 more Ohioans will lose unemployment compensation through December 2014 if the program is not extended.

The federal government has offered long-term unemployment benefits more than a half-dozen times during the past few decades, each time phasing out the benefits only after the economy has improved.

“It’s understood to be a temporary program, not something that gets built into the budget going forward,” said Chad Stone, chief economist at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “But don’t end it until the employment situation is good enough that the long-term unemployed have a reasonable shot at getting a job.”

But James Sherk, a senior policy analyst in labor economics at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said because the economy appears to be improving, “you haven’t had as much pressure on Congress to pass this.”

He said if the economy were worse off, Democrats would be more likely to negotiate with Republicans. That was the case, he said, in 2013, when Democrats were willing to trade some tax increases for extended unemployment benefits as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal.

“It’s one thing to have unemployment at 10 percent,” he said. “Now, it’s fallen down to about 6 percent. We appear to be headed in the right trajectory.”

That does little for people like Sprague, who worked for the same company for 23 years until it closed in 2005. After that, she moved to another place that closed. Since then, she worked at several jobs until August.

She is 56 and has arthritis. She had to pawn her wedding ring. Now, she’s worried about getting behind on the bills for her storage unit. She doesn’t want to lose the possessions she still has. She is, she said, in a constant state of panic.

“Every job I’ve held I went in with the hope that this will be the place I retire from,” she said. “It has not worked out that way.”

———

By Jessica Wehrman - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services
 

Comments

Windy

Our government can give all kinds of benefits to ILLEGAL immigrants, but cannot help its own LEGAL citizens. What's wrong with this picture?

believe it

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

Truth2u

So your a racist after all.

believe it

Racist against white people? What I wrote that got deleted is that it's the Hispanics that are working while the whites are sucking up all the unemployment. But I didn't write it quite this nice.

swiss family

Windy...I would encourage you to go and take a look at the pictures posted of the tour of the Buurma Farms over in Celeryville... almost all of the hands on workers are NOT Caucasian... the bosses seem to be though, and they did not even go out into the fields where the hardest workers are putting up with whatever elements, such as heat, rain, sweltering sun etc, they are out there tending to the crops.. and I am willing to bet that they are NOT Caucasian for the most part, and they are NOT making much over minimum wage...and when they are off work, they all pile into cramped housing, where 2, 3 and sometimes 4 families all live together in over crowded conditions.. Yes they choose to do that... but it is probably the only way to make and save any money..So I have to ask you when you say that the "illegals"get all kinds of benefits..please take a ride out there and see the glories mansions that they live in that you speak of.... and then please go to the food banks, and clothing banks, and free meals, etc..and I will assure you that you will see far more "Legal" citizens" then you would imagine...the truth is things are tough everywhere..and people do what they have to do to survive...legal or illegal, I have to tip my hat to anyone willing to live with several generations under one roof, all looking out for each other

Windy

Swiss - Let's hope that Buurma Farms has hired workers who have applied and been granted a GREEN CARD to work LEGALLY in this country. The issue is not WHERE the workers come from OR their skin color. The issue is that there are people who are crossing the US borders ILLEGALLY and receiving benefits that should be reserved for people who are in this country LEGALLY, NO MATTER THEIR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. It's sad when US CITIZENS cannot get benefits after they have been working and PAYING TAXES for years.

Believe it - It's those 'lazy white people' living off the government who have ruined it for those who are really struggling to find work and really NEED those benefits like the people mentioned in this article.

believe it

If it wasn't for the Hispanics in this country, there would be a lot of places out of business. Farms, hotels, restaurants, lots of low level jobs that white people won't do.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

Yeah , landscape businesses would be out of business and no Mexicans to mow the grass and spread pine needles.

truckin

BS

Truth2u

Are they ILLEGAL?

Waggaze

Celeryville has always hired Mexicans or Hispanics to work their fields. Being originally from Willard I know this firsthand. The Muck provides housing, the state provides Head Start for the workers' children in the summer and many are from Alice, TX. Of course I recall back when I was in Willard school system many were illegal immigrants who gained employment with RR Donnelley, MTD or Pioneer Rubber Company and then gained citizen status.

As for unemployment benefits one must lay blame where blame is due. This lies squarely on the House of Representatives for not passing a bill to extend the benefits and on Kasich for not lobbying his side of the isle or even providing educational benefits for those who are underemployed or unemployed. One or two of my family members who stayed in the dead economy of Huron County including Willard are unemployed without much hope of finding good work as back in the sixties and seventies. The leadership that comprised the governance of Huron County and Willard, which BTW was one of the best economies in Huron County, have retired or passed away. Those who have taken reign of the governance of the county are not inclined to bring back good jobs since most are offshore these days. There was one city manager in Willard who was credited with using his position for self gain such as buying land surrounding the airport all the while working to get it expanded for RR Donnelley to use it as a jetport. HUD found out and that went south and of course I am sure there are many more self serving events as cited not to mention inexperienced city managers, mayors and others within the city. Many doctors who are second generation are leaving to practice elsewhere outside of the county. Huron County has evolved into a haven for junkies and welfare recipients from what I have been told firsthand and have seen.

TrollingMotors

Johnny Jobs Ohio!!!!

LOL

Contango

Re: "She is 56 and has arthritis."

Hire an atty. and see if she can qualify for SSDI.

This article is a straw man - she's unhealthy AND unemployed.

The article reads as though the issue isn't federal extended unemployment benefits, but disability benefits.

Contango

Re: "specialized nursing job"

If she is indeed healthy, it's surprising that she can't find gainful employment since healthcare workers are currently highly sought after.

Unemployment benefits were designed to be short term - not permanent.

truckin

EXACTLY.. this is a BS story all the way.
I will assure you Fireland's Medical is soooo understaffed right now, although the big checks are great, i am tired of my wife always working, getting called in, etc..Nurse and can't find employed.. Yeah right!

other.PP

truckin - You can't have it both ways. You are constantly bitching in these comments about people not wanting to work, and now you're complaining about your wife working.

swiss family

I agree Contango.. something is not right... healthcare workers are in demand everywhere.. so for her to lose her job.. something doesn't add up.. then they just kind of glossed over her husband who "is a disabled veteran and can not work, but receives no benefits".. again, something seems odd there too..and I know we need to get out of the "Norwalk " mentality, because jobs in Norwalk are really hard to find... but you can go to Sandusky and throw a stone in any direction and hit a place that is hiring.. it might not pay big bucks , but it is a job, that will look good on your resume when you go to apply for another job...If I were the friend that took them in.. I would be worried.. she has 2 mouths to feed, and the guy won't work, or can't and the woman now has a broken foot and needs money.. she might just sue you...no good deed goes unpunished, as they say...I have a feeling that it will be you who will end up having to move out of your own house and let the "squatters" take over

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

Anyone with half a brain cell could tell you the economy is not getting better and in fact is getting worse. The Lies and Deceptions of the Most Corrupt Administration in this nation's History continues Unabated.

freespeech1

There are jobs, all you have to do is look.

http://www.indeed.com/jobs?l=nor...

Windy

And, in many cases, be able to pass a drug test, too.

mikeylikesit's picture
mikeylikesit

all of my girls in the "girls of cbcf" calendar adhere to strict drug testing policies. if they have drugs, i wanna test em!

swiss family

Mikey, Please... can you see the adults here are tying to have an adult discussion.. please grab your crayons and coloring book and entertain yourself for a while..

mikeylikesit's picture
mikeylikesit

no calendar for you! good day sir!

mikeylikesit's picture
mikeylikesit

dont take yourself so seriously swiss. nobody else does. believe it..

starryeyes83

FYI:

It takes 3 or 4 or more YEARS waiting - AFTER you've applied for Social Security disability. Then there's no guarantee you're going to get it.

Don't confuse it with UC where you put in a waiting week or two.

swiss family

I do get a big kick out of the people who think that building a big wall to keep the "Mexicans" out will help the opportunity... first.. if they were not here no one would do the menial jobs that they do like work in the hot fields for very little pay, and if they found someone to do it, it would require the owners to pay them a lot more.. and the price of vegetables would sky rocket...and second... do you not think that the Mexican people have not figured out that they can get a plane ticket out of Mexico to anywhere and walk right in through any airport in any city right now without question??? so why would they risk being shot at and chased and hurt and captured , like wild animals into a country with a big big statue of a lady, lady liberty who says give us your poor, your tired etc.. in other words ...all are welcome... what happened to that??

Windy

What happened to immigrants entering this country LEGALLY instead of SNEAKING over the borders ILLEGALLY? There's a BIG difference! Just because they are willing to do 'menial jobs', it doesn't mean they shouldn't have to go through the PROPER channels in order to live and work in this country LEGALLY.

mikeylikesit's picture
mikeylikesit

i understand you one hundred percent. but give up on this one. all your best efforts will be completely wasted here.

other.PP

swiss - What the heck are you talking about???? You can't just walk thru an airport, hop on a plane, and fly to any other airport without question. Haven't you ever heard of a passport? Not to mention, that many Mexicans are stopped upon entry into the U.S. to be x-rayed for stomachs full of heroin balloons. Don't you think that burrowing out tunnels into our country is somewhat an act of wild animals? There are only 2 ways to enter the country, 1. legally or 2. illegally.

starryeyes83

Lady Liberty never thought the population in this country would be over 300 million and growing, plus drought and food/water shortages worsening.

That Lady Liberty was counting on people being honest to go through Ellis Island. Yeah, how'd that work out?

Lady Liberty never thought it [EI] would close. Oh, and Lady Liberty never had free medical, Section 8, SNAP cards to give out , either.

Most of these ILLEGALS will end up on the street or in the gangs. since most of the "children" are well into their teens". Old enough to pop out more mouths to feed , on OUR dime.

Incidentally, has anyone heard where there's an outbreak of scabies and resistant TB etc., on the rise at the border. How's that for hygiene and cleanliness from people whom you want to handle OUR food crops!

So you bleeding hearts keep on quoting now - meaningless words, before immigration laws were toughened up and passed.

Sadly, though, for the rest of us , NOT enforced.

Anyone think, any other country would do this for Americans?
Nope, they'd just as soon give you a Colombian Necktie.

;] have good day!

And before anyone starts in; MY people have been here since the 1500's. Before this was a nation of LAWS!

Illegal invasion is Illegal.

BTW: Lou Dobbs was reporting all about this crisis, including, the uptick in diseases coming into this country - 10 years ago. People should have paid attention. CNN got rid of him for telling the truth.

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